In “The Key to Fat Burning Cardio”, I said that I went from doing 2 to 2.5 hours of cardio per day down to two 16 minute sessions. Well, the reason why those 16 minutes were so short and effective was that I had first built up my aerobic threshold, I then began to optimize my settings, decrease my time, track my performance daily, and note what speeds I was able to hit and maintain during my sprints. With all that, I was then ready for what I call my “Bat Outta Hell” cardio sessions.
Building Your Aerobic Threshold
At this point in your cardio journey, you have established a cardio baseline. Let’s say it looks something like this:
You hop on your elliptical, enter your weight, hit manual, and set it to level 5. You maintain a speed of 7mph. On some machines, it only shows the revolutions per minute (RPM), and if that pertains to you let’s say your RPM is around 75 RPM.
By the end of your 30 minutes, you total calorie readout is 300 calories.
So you burned 300 calories in 30 minutes which means you roughly burned 10 calories per minute.
You do this four times this week and notice a slight change in how easy it is to find your rhythm with each passing cardio session. Instead of increasing the time of your cardio session we are going to take the intensity level up and increase your overall AEROBIC THRESHOLD.
This can be tracked via the number of calories you burn.
For example, you burn 300 calories during a 30-minute session. This is your baseline threshold.
Your first task is to increase the number of calories you burn during your 30 minutes from 300 to 305-320.
*Note* You may be surprised how much additional effort and mental focus you may require to make an increase like this.
By you increasing your final output while keeping the timeframe the same you have turned up the demand on your body’s oxygen deficit AKA E.P.O.C. which is necessary to create the afterburn that is responsible for burning more fat while at rest.
And trust me, if you do this, when you do this, you will feel the lack of oxygen. You may even notice that it takes your body 15-20 minutes post cardio for your breathing to fully normalize again.
Optimizing Your Settings
Fast forward 2-3 weeks into doing consistent cardio 3-4 times per week…
Your 30 minutes is now down pat and you know how to get into your zone. Once you’ve reached this point, its time to OPTIMIZE.
You were at 7mph on level 5 for 30 minutes. Take it to level 6 or 7 and still keep the same speed or RPMs.
It will be harder to do because there is now more resistance which will force your body to have to work harder to maintain the old speed of 7mph. Doing this will up your calorie burn from 300 to possibly 325-350 within the same amount of time. Which in turn creates a greater oxygen deficit, which in turn creates a greater afterburn.
Decreasing Your Time
You now know what it feels like to push your body hard enough for the afterburn to engage.
You can now hit 350 calories in 30 minutes because you are “kind of a big deal.”
This time let’s DECREASE the amount of time from 30 minutes to 25 minutes.
The goal here is to see how close to 350 calories you can get in 25 minutes. It is going to be a definite stretch and will require you to push harder than you have in the past. But you are now physically stronger and mentally tougher. You may only get to 312, but 312 is still higher than the original 300 that you once slaved away to hit AND you did it in 25 mins. FIVE MINUTES LESS!!! Make sure to note the speed and or RPMs that you were able to maintain during these sessions. You may have peaked at 12mph or 95 RPM.
16 minutes of Hell
Now we have dropped all the way down to 16 minutes. Minute 1 was allotted to setting up the cardio settings and getting into your groove.
Minute 2 through 16 is reserved for pushing yourself as if you are being chased by a lion down I-295(a big highway in South Jersey). Dramatic? Yea…so what. You get the point.
The16-minute sessions should be an all-out sprint from start to finish.
They are just as demanding mentally as they are physical. But the afterburn is insane.
A good session like this will have your metabolism revved up 6-8 HOURS after you’ve stopped.
Combine this with your fat burning food/diet, strength training (which has an even greater afterburn than cardio), and the second session of cardio before bed, and fat burning is inevitable.
Currently, I do a mix of my 16 mins sessions, steady state, aerobic intervals, etc as my cardio options. They all can work as long as you work them.
Before I wrap this up I want to leave you with this. I know I shared a bunch of numbers previously but ultimately it is not about the 300, 350, level 7, level 10, or the 30 minutes.
These things are just parameters that you will use to give you direct feedback on your performance and progress over time.
What does matter is the level of intensity, purpose, and mental focus you have and use to ATTACK your cardio.
You need to be in attack mode when you train.
You need to be attacking every minute of your cardio session.
If you are doing interval training, every sprint needs to be like it’s your best and last one. Every steady state cardio session needs to be at your upper threshold. You can’t expect to show up, give a “D” or “C” performance, and expect “A” results.
Until next time…
Eat Clean, Train Dirty, and Expect Success!